Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grilled Tomato Basil Sandwiches

A staple at our house, I surprised myself that I had not posted this "recipe" already! I love using pesto sauce rather than whole basil leaves so you don't pull a whole leaf out when you take a bite- this way, every bite has a taste of basil- not just the bite where you are chewing nothing but basil haha

You can find pesto sauce in a tube near the spaghetti sauce and Italian foods. Its a great way to have the taste of fresh basil on hand.

4 slices focaccia bread
4 slices whole milk mozzarella
2 small tomatoes (6 slices)
4 Tbsp pesto sauce

Assemble the sandwiches with 2 slices of cheese on one slice of bread and spread 2 Tbsp of pesto and 3 slices of tomato on the other side. I take the two slices of bread with cheese and put them in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds just to get the cheese warm. Meanwhile, pre-heat a skillet to med-hot.

I then put the tomato basil slices on top of the cheese slices, butter the top of the bread and flip them onto a medium- hot skillet. While the underside cooks, butter the top side and flip the sandwiches.

With practice you will have melted cheese and golden toasted bread.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Cooking

This may seem ironic if you have been cooking throughout the holiday. I did plenty of cooking but now I am cooking more everyday food- and trying to use up the leftovers. The ham for one thing; my mother insisted on buying the largest ham so that I would have leftovers. We have been eating soup with ham and have a variety of sliced, whole and cubed ham in the freezer. Here is what we have been eating as well as a recipe for Cranberry Nut Bread that I made for the first time and really enjoy.

Happy New Year!

Senate Bean Soup
- evidently this was a meal the senate enjoyed together back in the "olden days"
Split Pea, Potato and Onion Soup with Ham

Cranberry Nut Bread

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cranberry Nut Bread

I am not usually a fan of recipes from manufacturers (Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Recipe? Not a fan). Although, I do use the Krusteaz Quick Bread Mixes (Cranberry, Lemon Poppyseed etc...) Go figure.

But when I could not find a box mix for Cranberry Bread I tried this Ocean Spray recipe. And I love it. I was worried at first since it calls for fresh cranberries which are pretty tart and a lot of them, but the bread is sweetened with sugar and orange juice which balance any overwhelming tartness. Orange zest gives it a fresh taste that no box can compete with.

Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups whole (fresh or frozen) cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. **Eyeball how much of the cranberries you want in the bread- I did not put in the full amount- maybe just one cup. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Senate Bean Soup

By Jeanne Dunbar

When you have a whole lot of ham leftover after Christmas or Easter. You can save some of the ham for sandwiches and use the bone with some ham pieces remaining in this recipe.

2 lbs dry navy beans (2 bags)
1 tsp salt
1 ham bone with some meat (enough for 2-3 cups cubed ham)
1 large onion chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp tarragon leaves
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Rinse and cover the beans in a large stock pot with water and salt. Let the beans soak overnight. Once the beans have been soaked, pour out the water and cover in 4 qt's or 16 cups water. In a separate pan, sautee the onion in butter. Add the ham bone, onion and seasoning to the beans and simmer for 4 hours. Remove the ham bone and place on a cutting board. Cut off the good ham and cut into smaller bite size pieces and add back into the soup. Once the soup has cooled a little add salt to taste. The saltiness will depend on your ham so you may not need a lot- or you may need a good 2 Tbsp.